Pluck a Thistle and Plant a Flower

“Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

One of the characteristics I admire most in people is the ability to pluck a thistle and plant a flower. The world we have created for ourselves is now full of thistles, prickly and thorny situations which make life uncomfortable. An insensitive word, a rude gesture, a difficult situation, a rough patch…the list goes on and on.

In my company, we hire for attitude and train for skill. It is inevitable that the weather will turn foul at one point or another in the business setting. Fair weather employees, like fair weather friends, are of little to no value when things change for the worse. They not only leave a hole where they should have been standing, but they often do their best to take others down with them while on the way out.

The people who are going to make a difference in this world are those who get going when the going gets tough. It is these people that get kinder under pressure, not meaner. It is these uncommon leaders who think more expansively when circumstances become more constrictive. It is these noteworthy individuals who bring peace, reason and perspective to bear on the confused mess often called life.

The next time you’re faced with a thistle, dare not just to to pluck it, but go the extra mile. Plant a flower where you think a flower might grow. Complement another unexpectedly. Lighten the mood in a dark situation. Breathe in and out, where others would hold their breath.

Resolve to be a blessing during the critical times, the lean years, not just in the times of plenty. Don’t react and make it worse. Don’t panic. Don’t quit.

It’s easier than you might think!

10 thoughts on “Pluck a Thistle and Plant a Flower

  1. Colin

    The person who gets better under pressure is an uncommon person, but a person who makes their own pressure is even rarer. Someone who, no matter where they go, raises the bar. I think this is what this quote is getting at. The person who picks a thistle is great. We need those thistles picked. But when someone plants a flower too, the situation goes from thorny, to neutral, and through that final step, to beautiful. Let’s take it all the way to beautiful.


  2. Doug

    I passed this on to one of my associates and they brought up a good point. Many people show a cooperative attitude in an interview but after they’re hired, when the daily stress-ors enters in, you see how they really are. That’s why I’m in favor of a trial period when hiring and that’s why a slump in the economy sorts this out as well.
    Great subject,you explained it well.


  3. J.J.Mc

    It looks like we all choose to be a gardener or strip miner.A gardener has the continued pleasure of a new harvest. Oh yes there may be crop failure on occasion and lots of tares to sort through but a strip miner will eventually run out of real estate.
    Really good post. Practical and perfect for this economic time.
    I see more companies hiring for attitude. There are so many people looking for work. This sometimes is the scale tipper.


  4. Fernando

    It’s so true – we must remember that everyone has faced and will face difficulty in life and so a kinder, gentler approach is usually the best medicine to return to what I believe is the natural optimistic state of persons everywhere. To human is to err? Yes, but to human is to love too, and that is the bigger of the two. Bravo!


  5. Doug

    Great advice for a business but have to say, it’s what I look for in my friends and most important, to me, in my spouse.
    On second thought, one of the ways I choose friends is by how they react when things are tough! Those are the people I want in my corner.


  6. Kearney

    It’s great to get bigger in crtitical times than smaller. This can result in some of the most mememorable, impactful and creative times!


  7. mchoya

    President Lincoln’s quote really sets the bar for individual responsibility. I’d not heard it before. It conveys an amazing greatness of character and high code of virtue in personal conduct. Thank you for this post!


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